Abstract

In the present study I use teacher value added and evaluation rating data from North Carolina public schools to estimate the signaling and human capital effects of graduate degrees. These analyses consider the effects of graduate degrees, overall, and the effects of graduate degrees inside and outside teachers’ area(s) of teaching. Signaling analyses show that those with a graduate degree in their area of teaching have comparable value-added estimates and receive higher evaluation ratings than teachers with undergraduate degrees only. Human capital analyses indicate that in-area graduate degrees benefit teacher value added in several comparisons and predict higher evaluation ratings on the Leadership standard. Signaling and human capital effects for out-of-area graduate degrees are generally negative or insignificant. Taken together, these results present a more comprehensive and nuanced view of the effectiveness of teachers with graduate degrees. Future analyses should assess additional outcome measures and continue focusing on the alignment between the graduate degree content and the teaching assignment.

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